Mairi has very kindly invited me to write a guest blog for her today on the process of breathing life into my creative ideas and how I managed to go from initial creative inspiration to actually publishing a novel on Amazon.
The Creative Journey
“Everyone has a book in them” or so the saying goes. Well, I am sure this is true – have you seen how many books are for sale on just amazon alone? Joking aside though, whilst many may have a creative idea they’d like to share with the world, I doubt everyone will have the tenacity to see the process through to publication.
Being creative doesn’t naturally go hand in hand with the technical process of publication.
So, where to begin?
I suppose I am lucky in that I have always enjoyed writing. My family is very artistic and my early influences therefore helped shape the person I have become today. Because a fine artist’s life can be a financially difficult one, I was firmly steered away from this despite my talents so, I guess my creativity had to find expression through an alternative medium and I naturally gravitated towards writing.
From an early age I wrote stories and as I developed my career this skill was put to good use in many aspects of my work including copy writing, editorial and PR. It was only when I took some time out on maternity leave that I found I had the mental head space to channel this creative energy into a novel.
Exhausted through lack of sleep the sensible thing for me to do when my child took a nap would have been to rest myself but, instead, I started to write. I do mean write, in long hand; baby in one arm, pen in the other hand.
Drawing on past locations rather than life experiences proved to be my inspiration for my first novel; the characters and story quite literally wrote themselves. It is quite bizarre how a character can come alive in your mind and make its own journey. I find I put myself in the shoes of the person I am writing about and that way the thought processes, actions and dialogue flow more naturally. I didn’t plan my first novel, it flowed onto the page itself (but I have to admit that I no longer write in quite the same way).
The creative process was a struggle from the point of view that I then had to type up all my handwritten manuscript (over 100,000 words!), edit and then rework the story. Once the novel grew in length my annoying habit of having to re-read things from the beginning became untenable so my working habits also began to evolve and adapt. It took years, working late into nights, to put the final book together then life took over and I had no time to do any more.
Helping to run a business, a home, being a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend – all these emotional ties which enrich us also bring enormous and time consuming responsibilities. Writing is such a solitary pursuit that it can be rather incongruous – a poor bedfellow to the reality of day-to-day life. Let alone the technical aspects of ever-changing software, technical formatting, artwork – lucky I had a head start in that area but it was still a challenge.
So, how did I finally get to a listing on amazon? I had already printed a first edition of my novel to ‘test the market’ and all copies were quickly read with favourable reviews. So, with that feedback in mind, I suppose I decided that I needed to clear the decks in my mind before I could really engage in the emotional journey of my next novel. This is already underway and I simply couldn’t continue it with the first novel in a state of limbo!
Late nights, a steep technical learning curve and hey presto, I am now plunging into the depths of obscurity on amazon.
As a naturally private person, I am struggling with the promotional side of this – something in which I normally excel for other people really goes against the grain for me! Yet, for me, the whole experience of publishing my novel is a major achievement.
The Here and Now:
So excuse me if I may sometimes seem a little distracted these days. Now that I have let the ideas flow, more and more stories are beginning to gather and pool; the floodgates are starting to seem rather inadequate and I wonder how on earth I can ever get all these words onto paper!
My advice if you are thinking about writing or any other creative form of expression would be:
- Make emotional space to let your creativity emerge – allow your mind to work and think
- Make time for your creative pursuit
- Don’t worry about the finer details, just keep going – refinements can be made later
- Do not rush, let ideas mature
- Do not talk away your creativity; to keep the ideas fresh and exciting they need to remain part of you; escaping into your work not your conversation with your friends
- Be flexible; be prepared to adapt and change the way you work
I think Mairi would agree that even if your journey is not a literal one, as in the case of 28 Feet Afloat, you can still travel a long way and linger at interesting ports of call en route.
Finding a way to express your creativity can help you retain your own sense of self; satisfy you on an intellectual and emotional level and be deeply frustrating yet satisfying all at once.
A big thank you to Anna for being my first guest blogger. Her first novel, link below is called ‘A Passion for Art”
or for more information please feel free to visit her Facebook page: